Monday, 2 July 2018

Food: Jailbird

Style: Steak and seafood          Price: £££ (Around £20 a main)   Location: Victoria Square

The Location

I was disappointed when Nosh and Quaff closed abruptly; I was always a big fan of the chicken wings. On reflection, I understood the closure. It was too pricey for the sort of food they were serving- 'dirty' American fare. There's many places doing that cheaply now. Lasan group kept hold of the beautiful building in Victoria Square and have reopened as Jailbird, a New York style steak and seafood restaurant.  It's still pretty pricey but perhaps steak will attract a more extravagant crowd.

I love the redecoration. They've moved the bar to downstairs, which makes a lot more sense. I'd definitely pop in for a cocktail, which are lovely. Upstairs has a smart casual vibe with plenty of seating and lots of greenery.

The drinks

The cocktails are lovely, many with New York themed names. They're all between £8 and £10 which is about right. There's a good mix of long, short, fizzy, dry and sweet cocktails without being too much on the menu, though you can ask for a specific classic cocktail. I can see many an Old Fashioned being sipped upon here.

I enjoy an Aperitif style cocktail, so that was the section I looked at and chose a Bartholdi's Gift (£8.50) named for the designer of the Statue of Liberty. This was a mix of Absolut Acai vodka, cherries and violet- I'm assuming it's Creme Yvette or similar. It was similar to my favourite Aviation, but longer and more refreshing. An excellent start to proceedings. There's other drinks on the menu I'd return for and it's a relaxed environment.

With dinner, we enjoyed the light red Tilia Bonarda. I'm not sure how much it was but it had the lovely cherries and vanilla type flavour I enjoy.

The food

I was pleased Jailbird are selling themselves as steak and seafood as I don't care too much for steak. I chose the Black Risotto with Prawns (£7.95) which is a delicious, moreish bowl of garlicky goodness. The prawns were huge, good quality and perfectly charred. I loved this and cleared the plate. Looking back at the menu, I can see this is available as a main for £15.50, which is definitely something I'd order in future.

Other starters include scallops, lamb chops (which I tried and were great) giant cous cous and asparagus salad (something I'd go for next time) and a ham hock sharer. Lots of very tempting dishes.

If I'd spotted the prawns-as-main situation, I would have chosen that, but instead I focused my attention on the fish. I was tempted with the garlic and herb chicken (still am) but instead I chose the Creole Sea Bass (£19.80) with a kale salad as it sounded light. Hah. For some reason I agreed to a side of chips (£3.50) despite having told myself I wouldn't.

The fish was giant. My dinner companion George of Caramel Latte Kiss joked that it was, in fact, a whale. The fish was beautifully cooked and tasty, though the creole flavouring wasn't as strong as I expected. The kale salad wasn't quite what I was expecting as it was mixed with sour cream or creme fraiche or something similar. It was surprisingly light but there was a lot of it. The chips were quite disappointing, they were more like wedges. I'd rather they were a little smaller and crispier. Realistically I just didn't need chips.

I felt bad because I left quite a lot, but I was just so full.

Despite this, I left room for dessert and I'm so glad I did as the Coconut Panna Cotta (About £5) was fantastic. Creamy but light and perfectly complemented by the caramalised pineapple on top. I also enjoyed a splendid glass of dessert wine as recommended by the waitress, who was excellent throughout.

Although it could be said that the prices are quite high and the portions quite large, there's a lot to love about Jailbird. Great cocktails, a fantastic set of starters and a lovely location. As I don't care about steak, lobster or expensive wine, I reckon I could have a three course meal and a couple of cocktails for around £40 a head, which is no more than many other places in less pretty settings. I'd recommend trying it out, but stray away from the obvious steak and chips: you'll be pleasantly surprised.

(Sidenote: I'm told they are addressing the portion sizes.)


Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes.

Photos my own.

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